Editorial: Respiratory Planetary Medicine

TackSHS researchers, Joan B. Soriano and Esteve Fernández, outline the paradox between human health and planetary health in the editorial “Repiratory Planetary Medicine” published in the Archivos de Bronconeumologia (2017).

The authors argue that human health overall is improving to some extend at the expense of increased pollution, reduced biodiversity, loss of rainforests and other environmental lungs, and global warming. The quantity and quality of this growth of human health is neither sustainable over time, nor is it compatible with the health of the planet.

Nevertheless, improvements in global world health do not currently extend to respiratory health. The WHO includes 5 respiratory diseases (COPD, pneumonia, lung cancer, sleep apnea, and tuberculosis) in the list of the 10 top causes of global mortality [1]. There are 334 million asthmatics, 323 million COPD patients, and 1.1 billion smokers, more than at any other time in history [2].

The authors argue that we need to take a preventive approach focusing on global and social medicine, practiced from a population approach to reach solutions to planetary respiratory diseases [3]. This includes promoting active lifestyles, moderate alcohol consumption and no smoking. Current attitudes to healthcare – curative, biomedical, molecular and highly personalized – must be changed to accommodate, or at least complement, the root environmental and social causes of today’s diseases.

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  1. Lopez AD, Mathers CD, Ezzati M, Jamison DT, Murray CJL, editors. Global burden of disease and risk factors. Washington, DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank; 2006.
  2. The tobacco atlas. Available from: http://www.tobaccoatlas.org [accessed 3.10.16].
  3. Rose G. Sick individuals and sick populations. Int J Epidemiol. 2001;30: 427–32.